MD vs PhD: Difference and Comparison

MD and PhD are both degrees in the medical field. The complete form of MD is Doctor of Medicine, and the complete form of PhD is Doctor of Philosophy.

Also, a person holding an MD degree can prescribe medicines, but this is not the case with a PhD degree holder. A PhD degree holder cannot prescribe medicines, and the whole work for them is research-oriented.

Key Takeaways

  1. MD (Doctor of Medicine) is a professional degree for physicians and surgeons, focusing on diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases and medical conditions.
  2. Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) is an advanced academic degree awarded for research and original contributions to a specific field of knowledge, not limited to medicine or healthcare.
  3. MD and Ph.D. are advanced degrees, but MD prepares individuals for medical practice, while Ph.D. is a research-based degree applicable to various disciplines.

MD vs PhD

MD stands for doctor of medicine, and is a degree given to those who complete a four-year course, will be treating patients, and can prescribe medicines. Ph.D. means a doctor of philosophy and is a degree that takes up to seven years to attain. It requires the student to submit a thesis paper in research work.

MD vs PhD 1

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The time of completion of both degrees also differs from each other. It takes about four years for a person to get an MD degree, while getting a PhD can take four to seven years, depending upon when the person studying for the degree submits their thesis paper.

Both MD and PhD degree holders are referred to as ‘doctors. Only MD degree holders are practising medical doctors. As a PhD can be done in various subjects, this degree mainly focuses on research.


Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMDPhD
Full formDoctor of MedicineDoctor of Philosophy
Time of completion of degreeIt takes four years to get an MD degree.It can take four to seven years to get a PhD degree.
Writing prescriptionsMD degree holders can prescribe medicines to patients.PhD degree holders cannot prescribe medicines to patients.
OriginIts origin is traceable back to the ninth century. It was first introduced in the mediaeval Arabic Universities.Its origin is traceable back to the Middle ages. It was first introduced in European Universities.
Completion of degreeGetting an MD degree takes two years of coursework and two years of rotational work.To finish the study for a PhD degree, one has to submit his thesis paper.


What is MD?

MD stands for ‘doctor of medicine’. The doctor of medicine comes from Latin, which means ‘teacher of medicine’.

It is a four-year-long degree.

It includes two years of coursework and another two years of rotational work in some hospital or clinic.

An MD degree formally trains a person for patient care. It takes a longer time to complete a degree if the person is studying to become a physician as they undergo more intensive training than others.

The main focus of this degree is to train the students and prepare them to focus on the overall diagnosis and take proper decisions about in which direction the patient care should be taken.

An MD degree holder is referred to as a medical doctor. These medical doctors also have the option to specialize in highly skilled sub-fields, such as surgeries, for which other patient care professionals are not trained.

MD degree holders are practising medical doctors and thus can prescribe medicines to patients. If specialised in sub-fields, they can even do surgeries according to their field of specialisation.


What is PhD?

PhD stands for ‘doctor of philosophy’. The doctor of philosophy comes from the Latin word philosophiÃi doctor, which means ‘teacher of philosophy’.

Getting a PhD can take upto four to seven years, depending on the submission of a thesis paper.

To get a PhD degree, a person must submit their thesis paper. After submitting the thesis paper, it is examined by a group of experts in the field of the PhD degree.

The person can also be called to elaborate or defend his work before the experts.

A person can do PhD in almost any academic field, from literature to anthropology. All the PhD holders are referred to as doctors in that specific field he has mastered.

The primary purpose of people studying for a PhD degree is to do original research in their field. There is also a PhD degree available in the medical field.

In some medical programs, the authority offers the students a dual MD-PhD track. This is for those who are interested in becoming physician-scientists.

Students who take upon this dual MD-PHD program can write prescriptions, practice medicine, and research in a clinical or academic setting.

There is also a possible way to get a PhD without studying for an MD degree. The last requirement for a student to be eligible for studying for a PhD degree is that the student must have a bachelor’s degree in the specific field you want to do a PhD.


Main Differences Between MD and PhD

  1. The full form of MD is Doctor of Medicine, and the complete form of PhD is Doctor of philosophy.
  2. MD is a higher degree in medicine, whereas a PhD is a higher degree that can be done in various fields.
  3. It takes four to seven years to complete the MD degree, while it can take four to seven years to obtain a PhD.
  4. An MD degree is completed after two years of coursework and another two years of rotational work. In contrast, completing a PhD is after submitting a thesis paper which experts then examine.
  5. MD degree was first introduced in the mediaeval Arabic Universities, while the PhD degree was first introduced in European Universities.

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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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